Surfing is one of those sports that requires a lot of patience and it is also one that teaches you the importance of having a patient mentality.
For years I have watched other, wiser and more experienced surfers as they sit and stare at the sea for eons before entering the water. Or they paddle into a wave and then suddenly stop right before the wave begins to curve, allowing the wave to pass right under them. It boggled my brains! I just jump in and paddle out and then once out, I paddle into as many potential waves as possible in the hopes of catching one. It’s only been until recently (in my very scattered years of surfing) that I’ve realized what these other surfers were doing. They were waiting, watching, feeling, for the right opportunity. They were being patient. Just as I am now learning, these surfers have learned to read the ocean, to decipher the underlying currents, and look for the right waves. In doing so these surfers use their now knowledge, gained from both personal experience and through the teaching of others, how to determine the best paddling out routes and which waves are best to paddle into. Ultimately, their few minutes of waiting allows these surfers to save the most amount of energy for the right and ultimately the better waves; and of course, this means that more times than not their time spent in the water is not just efficient but more enjoyable.
The practicing of patience also applies to our life of faith. One of my close girlfriends told me the other day that our faith is often, if not always, very intertwined with our level of patience. That really, we can’t have faith without patience, and vice-versa. As we grow in our faith, we find ourselves more and more learning and waiting to hear God’s whisper to say, “Yes, this way is best.” As we learn, we often want to jump at the first thing that appears good, but often times what appears to be good isn’t always God’s best. And when we jump too quickly on these good things, our impatience leads to hurt, frustration, and confusion. Especially when certain situations, events, or relationships don’t pan out the way we intended or thought that they should. Sometimes, it’s not even the situation that was wrong, but simply the timing or maybe even the other people involved. Waiting and being patient for God’s best is crucial.
This is not to say that every situation that has ended up bad, or hurtful or incomplete was a result of impatience. Life happens and we are human. It even happens in surfing – the best waves can sometimes end up being the deadliest. And God, who plans all things, uses every situation for our ultimate good and his ultimate glory. But as we learn to wait patiently for God’s best timing, our hearts become less distracted and hurt by the wrong situations, and more of our energy can be poured out into doing what is best.
The practicing of patience works. In surfing, the few extra minutes of standing on the beach or waiting for the right wave not only saves my energy but helps me avoid the torment of being pounded by and engulfed into the wrong wave. In life, the more patient we learn to be, the more our hearts and our minds are clear to see, do, and experience what is truly God’s best.
Author: Emily “EMJ” James